A former FBI agent in Minnesota was motivated to leak classified information to The Intercept website, in part, because he is black. That’s according to lawyers for Terry James Albury, a former special agent who was charged in the leak case on Wednesday.
“Terry Albury served the U.S. with distinction both here at home and abroad in Iraq,” Albury attorneys JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel said in a statement provided to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.
“He accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth in the Information. We would like to add that as the only African-American FBI field agent in Minnesota, Mr. Albury’s actions were driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI.”
Between February 2016 and January 2017, Albury accessed classified documents regarding the FBI’s handling of confidential sources as well as to documents “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country,” the Justice Department alleges.
The 17-year FBI veteran took screen shots of some of the documents and copy-and-pasted others provided to The Intercept, a 2014-founded website that covers national security and surveillance issues.
Albury worked at the time as a counterterrorism liaison assigned to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
“The FBI believes that the classified and/or controlled nature of the documents indicates the News Outlet obtained these documents from someone with direct access to them,” according to the warrant against Albury.
“Furthermore, reviews of the FBI internal records indicate ALBURY has electronically accessed over two thirds of the approximately 27 documents via trusted access granted to him on FBI information systems.”
The Intercept published the documents on Jan. 31, 2017 in a series, “The FBI’s Secret Rules.”
The Intercept tied the publication to President Donald Trump’s election, writing the Republican “has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers.”
The news series highlighted parts of three internal FBI manuals The Intercept said provided a “rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.”
Albury is the second Intercept source to be charged with leaking classified information in the past year.
Reality Winner, a contractor for the National Security Agency, was arrested and charged in June 2017 with leaking a classified document to the site regarding Russian hacking efforts. She is currently in custody in Georgia, awaiting trial.